HI DIDDLE DEE DEE
ERIC SHIRVELL, 45 GAY/VERY
BACK END OF PANTO HORSE.
GEORGE DAVIES, 50 JOBBING ACTOR, FRONT END OF PANTO HORSE.
TRACY PHILLIPS, 21 FRESH FROM
CINDERELLA. DRAMA SCHOOL
JOHN SYNDON, 30 YOUNG
ACTOR, PRINCE CHARMING.
GWEN THOMAS, 65 OLD
ACTOR, FAIRY GODMOTHER.
ROSIE MORTON, 48 SEX
JOBBING ACTOR, DANDINI.
DONALD COLEPEPPER, OLD
RSC ACTOR, BARON HARDUP.
WAYNE PETERS, 65 OLD 60’s
BERT BAXTER, 65 OLD
COMEDIAN, UGLY SISTER.
NORMAN ALLEN, 65 OLD
COMEDIAN, GAY, UGLY SISTER.
SUMMARY OF THE PLAY.
Hi Diddle Dee Dee is set in the dressing rooms of ten of the cast in the pantomime Cinderella. The story is about the relationship between all of them and how they may not be quite as they are seen.
THE FIRST NIGHT.
ERIC George you’re such a bloody liar.
GEORGE I don’t know what you mean.
ERIC Yes you do you bastard, get me out of this, the bloody zip is stuck again.
GEORGE There, better now Eric.
ERIC No, look George you said no more rubies when we’re working and you farted constantly.
GEORGE Don’t be such an old queen.
ERIC It’s all right for you, you bastard, you’re in the front, you should try mincing about stuck in here with your head up some ones arse.
GEORGE All right Erica dear, calm down, I’m sorry for farting.
ERIC It’s not just the farting, although God knows it’s driving me mad. One night we ought to swap ends and see how you like it.
GEORGE Not with my back I can’t, you know how I suffer with my back, I’m in constant pain, I’ve tried everything.
ERIC Perhaps you ought to have a word with Rosie, I’ve heard she does that massage where they walk on your back, very therapeutic so I’m told by Mike in the band.
GEORGE Well even if you fix it, I’m still not going in the back.
ERIC I’d like to get Trevor in the back of this thing when you’re having one of your bad nights.
GEORGE Our esteemed director, well yes I’m inclined to agree with you, God knows how he became a director.
ERIC Like an awful lot of them deary, he’s a failed actor, I’ve met so many of them in my time. It’s all just a power trip for them. The only reason he’s doing this is he can’t get anything better; he’s not fit to direct traffic.
GEORGE He’s not that bad, he could manage traffic, just about.
ERIC How can it have come to this, I went to
for Gods sake. My best friend then was Laurence Booth, look how successful he
has been since leaving. He’s been playing Pontius Pilate in Joseph for years,
that’s where I should be, not the back end of a pantomime horse in Cleethorpes.
GEORGE The trouble is that’s all he’s done since leaving
low budget films and the tour of Joseph, over and over again, it would have
driven you mad. Anyway what do you mean RADA, they chucked you out after the first term.
ERIC That’s not the point, I’ve served my time, I’ve done years of training, look at my CV, what have this lot done of any worth. Look at Tracy, Miss Thing, Phillips, straight out of University with a Performing Arts Degree. How did she get Cinderella, don’t make me play the who’s sleeping with the director game dear.
GEORGE Well every ones got to start somewhere.
ERIC I know George, I’ve just had enough, I’m sick to death of it. Flogging myself to death eight shows a week for Equity minimum in some God forsaken place, what’s the point.
GEORGE Money, that’s the point, if you had my ex wife to pay you’d see the point, I have to pay for her and the kids every week regardless of whether I’m working or not, it drives me mad. I know she’s got another bloke, but until he moves in, they’re just good friends and so I keep having to pay. I think I’ll join Fathers for Justice, how do you fancy climbing on the roof of the House of Commons with me in the horse suit and Superman on our back.
ERIC Are you mad I hate heights.
GEORGE I didn’t expect the answer to be yes, by the way, but it would be a bit of fun. That’s the trouble I’m stuck working any show I can get just like you, what else can we do, you’re not exactly cut out to be a bricklayer and think how quickly you’d be bored to death flouncing about in a hairdressers making tea.
ERIC It’s all right for you, you don’t care what you do as long as you’re working.
GEORGE Oh, don’t I. I’ll have you know I care very much, even now. I still live in hopes of that big break, I did Chekhov last year.
Edinburgh in a grotty
GEORGE Better than never at all and it wasn’t in a church hall, it was in the Traverse Theatre; we had full houses all through the run and some of the best revues I’ve ever had. That’s what made it worth it; it’s not about the money.
ERIC I admire your perseverance George I really do, but I’ve just run out of energy. I hate this bloody company, look at them. Buttons. Buttons, have you ever met anyone so arrogant. Ex pop star Wayne Peters, if he could stick to the script we could get home half an hour earlier every night. Have you any idea how old he is.
GEORGE He says he’s forty nine.
ERIC Don’t make me laugh dear, if he’s forty nine that would make us about sixty.
GEORGE Well he is the housewives favourite and he puts bums on seats.
ERIC He may be the housewives favourite but he isn’t anybody else’s favourite. I know when he was doing Singing in the rain, everyone, even front of house used to piss in the tank they used for the rain. That’s how popular he was dear.
GEORGE Well no one’s perfect.
ERIC Yes, they also pissed in the bath when he did Some like it hot, just ask Dilly the SM.
GEORGE I’ve never quite got along with her, she seems such an aggressive old dyke.
ERIC No she isn’t, it’s just a front, a defence.
GEORGE I know I shouldn’t say it, but it’s the tattoos, they look like they were done with a rusty nail. The sad thing is I know underneath she’s a really attractive girl.
ERIC She is, in fact she’s one of the few people on this job that I can actually have a conversation with. You know her girlfriend is Sarah; yeah stunning Sarah, could have been a model Sarah, like they say, never judge a book by its cover.
GEORGE Things aren’t that bad then that’s Dilly and Fairy Godmother that you like.
ERIC Gwen Thomas soap star, well she makes me laugh, though probably not for the right reasons. I’m sure she means well, but when she’s on she’s fumbling with her lines and the rest of the time she’s off having a fag at the stage door. It’s not fair George, look how long we were left hoofing last night before she realised it was her cue. I was bloody knackered, my lallies were killing me. Then on she strolls in a world of her own and utters the wrong line.
GEORGE Come on Erica love, I’ve never seen you like this before, cheer up.
ERIC Cheer up, cheer up, are you mad. We’re working with Bert Baxter the most homophobic comic since Kenny Lanning and you want me to cheer up. Ugly Sister, yes, ugly is an understatement and I don’t just mean his eek. I wouldn’t trust him as far as I could throw him. I was up for a commercial a few years ago and so was he, but he went in first. When I went in the director asked me if I was feeling better. I told him I was; well I’d just had my piles done. I didn’t get the job, nor did I ever work for that director again. It was years later I found out he’d told them I had aids.
GEORGE Well I’d like to say I’m surprised, but sadly I’m not.
ERIC Here’s one if you want to be surprised, Simon.
GEORGE What Simon the MD.
ERIC Yes, Simon, nice as pie, friend to all, Simon.
GEORGE So, what, tell me.
ERIC He’s in the
BNP dear, he’s a narrow minded
bigot he hates me and Dilly; he’s probably in the Bert Baxter fan club dear.
That’s why he never speaks to anyone.
GEORGE I just thought he was a muso who just wanted to be in the pub with the rest of the band getting pissed.
ERIC Sometimes you’re delightfully naive George it’s Simon who fixes the band, they are all in it together and even if they’re not no one is going to say anything, they can be replaced just like that.
GEORGE Well what about the other sister Norman Allen he’s not like that, he’s a well respected family man isn’t he, I know there were rumours a few years ago.
ERIC Rumours, rumours dear, I should say so; he’s a naff old queen and a bitchy one too. Have you ever seen his wife, they haven’t lived together for years it’s all just a front. Just follow him one night when he’s off cottaging and as for the rug dear, it looks more like a door mat.
GEORGE Well I’m no oil painting.
ERIC That’s different, you’re my friend.
GEORGE Thanks Eric that means a lot to me.
ERIC Well it’s the little things that make the difference don’t they George. I remember the time that bitch Allison from front of house said we’d all got to do the publicity photos outside on the front and it was bloody snowing and you stood up to her and said no.
GEORGE Well I had to I’m the Equity dep.
ERIC It was still very brave of you, I mean I’ll stand up for myself but she’s a very scary woman, there’s something just not right about her. She’s always hanging around with those odd looking blokes; they look like ex KGB.
GEORGE I know what you mean, I’m sure she’s dealing drugs; she certainly hangs around with some very dubious looking characters.
ERIC I’m sorry George it must be my time of the month but things just seem to be getting on top of me at the moment. Mind you the only one who hasn’t got on top of me is Rosie Morton. I mean that literally, I think she thinks she can change me, God knows why. I keep telling her I’m an omi-palone, gay dear, homosexual, will she listen. No. I’m Dandini she says, I’m a man too. Sad old cow she’d shag anything with a pulse.
GEORGE I don’t think that’s true, not anything.
ERIC Oh George, I’m sorry I didn’t mean you.
GEORGE It’s alright Eric dear, I was feeling a bit lonely.
ERIC I know what you mean, you do some silly things when you’re feeling lonely. I’ve been having a bit of a thing with
GEORGE You mean young David in the chorus.
ERIC Yes, that David. The thing is he’s not even gay, I know he thinks he is at the moment but just wait until this is over and he wouldn’t give me a second glance. That’s the way it is, I’m desperate and he’s lonely.
GEORGE Yes, we all need someone who cares, especially when we’re on tour.
ERIC That’s half the problem, feeling lonely, it’s hard not to when you’ve only this lot to choose from. Look at Baron Hardup, poor old git; I’m Donald Colepepper I’ve been with the
RSC for years. Yes
dear, you have, but you’re not there any more, those days are gone. I’m sick to
death of his stories of when I was at the National with Johnny and Ralphy.
GEORGE Perhaps you’re right, but we can’t give in we’ve a show to finish.
ERIC Show to finish, are you mad. I’m on the verge of suicide and you’re talking about finishing the show.
GEORGE Come on, the second acts very short and it is our big number with Prince Charming.
ERIC Yes it is our big number but can you remember how hard we had to work for that number, I nearly left the show because of it. Bloody Sophie Augins, she’s a bitch.
GEORGE Surely she’s just a perfectionist.
ERIC No George, she’s a bitch; I’ve known her since the beginning when I met her in Pineapple. I used to go to the same cattle call auditions that she went to. Hundreds of dancers in the day all fighting to be one of ten or twenty for some minor pop video or trade show. She was a hard faced cow even then. Pity anyone trying to pick up the routine should ask her for the counts. It’s not that hard to tell them; no it’s five six seven eight and one two and three and four, I mean how hard is that. It’s easy, if you help them and they get the job it just means they’ve got the look they were after. You know in those days all they wanted was white girls with blond hair. She was the first to have her hair dyed although she swore it was natural, but I know girls who saw her in the shower and she didn’t have a matching set. Then she made it in one of those dance groups on Top of the pops, Hot Sex, or whatever they were called. She was a pushy cow, don’t get me wrong I admire her success in a way, but I think she paid a high price for it. She lost her soul. Then eventually she got too old to dance and became a choreographer and destroyed the lives of so many girls who joined the group. So many of them got anorexia or became addicted to drugs to keep their weight down. She was a cow; she didn’t care as long as the show looked good. Now she’s taking it out on us.
GEORGE I’m sure you’re right, but we still have our big number with Prince Charming.
ERIC How in Hells name you can call John Sydon charming is beyond belief. I’m sure he’s a paedophile, have you seen him with the young kids in the chorus. Most of the time he’s so coked up he’s almost incoherent. It’s all too depressing I think I’m going to cry.
GEORGE Oh Eric, I hate to see you cry; John isn’t that bad, you’re just having a bad day. Let me give you a hug; you know the show must go on.
ERIC Must it George, must it.
STAGE MANAGER Act two beginners this is your call.
GEORGE Yes Erica dear, it must. Now wipe your eyes, it’s show time.
ERIC Thanks George, of course you’re right. There’s just one thing.
GEORGE What’s that.
ERIC Just promise you won’t fart second act.
GEORGE All right, I promise.
THE DOOR OPENS
PLAYING IN THE
THE SECOND NIGHT
A KNOCK AT THE DOOR
JOHN Tracy, it’s John.
JOHN Hiya, you’re in early tonight.
JOHN New numbers, just for you.
JOHN Oh, Trevor’s idea eh, has he any other plans for anyone else, do you know.
JOHN No, not at all, it’s nice to see someone young who’s enthusiastic about their career. I’m afraid I’ve become a bit lax with mine. It’s sad, I’m not that much older than you and yet we’re so far apart. I can remember being like you, a fresh faced youth just out of drama school and desperate to succeed. It’s surprising how soon you learn to compromise, to settle for second best.
JOHN Yeah, but look who’s at those parties; sad C list celebrities desperate for some publicity. I don’t want to be there, I want what you’ve got, I want to be back at the very start of my career, I want to start again.
JOHN Made it, is that what you think
JOHN I am grateful, I am, I can’t tell you how grateful I am. In many ways I have everything I could ask for, I’ve shed loads of money, I’m famous, for what that’s worth, I can have any girl I want, I should be as happy as a pig in shit. The trouble is in real life I’m still like you. I was bloody lucky getting Eastsiders so early, I thought at the time, I’ve hit the big time what more can I want. It’s only now I’m beginning to know what I really want.
JOHN I can see why you think like that, but don’t believe all you read in the tabloid press. I’m not a coke addict, never was. I have a speech impediment which comes on when I’m stressed or tired which makes me slur my speech. Ok I used to do a line every now and then but never anything serious. The trouble is once the press have an opinion on you that’s what sticks and people believe it. All that rubbish about being at so and so’s party and all the other things, so much of it isn’t true. You know there was a rumour I was a paedophile, just because I liked being with the young kids. There’s a reason I like being with the young people, it reminds me of my sister Holly who died when she was eleven. She had melingitis and I miss her like hell. That’s why I like being with young people, it reminds me of the good days with my sister. We used to have such good times, I was her elder brother, I should have been there to look after her. It was because of her I’m in the business; I went with my mother when she took Holly to ballet class and I wanted to join in, that was the start of my career. I wish she was here today to share my success, well not all of it, not the silly parties. People like me go to the opening of an envelope just to keep our faces in the press, because without the publicity we’re dead. Do you remember when you started your career, doing some fringe play in a pub theatre, or some low budget film about some worthy topic. That’s where I started, a fringe play about The Marchioness River Boat disaster, a play that eventually made a difference to safety on the
river boats. That’s where I want to be, I want to be doing something that matters, not leaning on the bar in The Red Lion in
Eastsiders asking for a pint and chatting about the weather. I don’t want to be
a Gwen Thomas, God knows she means well but look at the poor old cow. She’s
been in Grange Road
since the first episode, you know the one they keep showing on the outtake
shows, the one where the set fell down. Nothing much has changed there, the
sets still wobble and so do the actors. I know they joke that they wheel Gwen
about on a dolly but I don’t think it’s far from the truth.
JOHN She is but I can’t stand to see her, she’s me in thirty or forty years time if I don’t do something about my situation. The only reason she’s still in
Grange Road is to pay for her scrounging
JOHN I know, I’m sorry, I told you I’m not like my tabloid persona.
JOHN I am bloody sad, you’re right; I’m drowning in a sea of success. That’s the problem with the press; all you ever see is me going to parties apparently enjoying myself, when I’m actually a far more serious person who’s desperately concerned about his career.
JOHN You have no idea how many times I’ve asked, I even slept with one of the producers in the hope it would make a difference. I know it’s mad but I want to be like Donald Colepepper.
JOHN He may be to you and to some of the others, but if you really listen to what he has to say you can really learn from him. Have you ever bothered to look him up in Spotlight and read his CV, he’s done everything that’s worth doing and more.
JOHN Well perhaps you should listen in the future, he taught me loads of things and he’s some great stories about the old days. Do you know the one where he was in rehearsals with Johnny Gielgud and Johnny came up to him and asked him; what are you doing in this scene Donald. Donald had no lines in the scene and said to Johnny I’m doing nothing in this scene, whereupon Johnny turned to Donald and said; oh no, you can’t be doing nothing in this scene dear boy; I’m doing nothing in this scene. That’s class, I love it.
JOHN What about the other one he tells about Dustin Hoffman when he was working with Laurence Olivier in Marathon Man. Dustin has to run into the room out of breath as it’s a cut from outside when he was jogging. So before the director calls action Dustin starts running up and down the studio, the director calls action and into the room runs the out of breath Hoffman. They do endless takes as they do in film, Hoffman the method actor keeps running before every take. Finally the director is satisfied with the shot and Olivier says to the exhausted Hoffman; have you ever thought of trying acting dear boy. You’ve got to admit he had a point, I’m a great believer in method acting but you can take it too far sometimes. You know in some ways I’d rather be like George.
JOHN I do, that’s my point, he did Chekhov last year at
JOHN It’s not about the money, it’s about the quality of the work.
JOHN No, that’s where you’re wrong, if I leave Eastsiders and I’m off the tele for six months I’m as good as dead. How many times have you heard people say, whatever happened to so and so, I thought he was dead.
Tracy, I give in you’re
right, I’ll tell you the truth. I’d love to do Chekhov or something risky. You
know what stops me, I’m scared to death of failure. I can stand in the bar in
Eastsiders and do my lines week in week out, it’s safe, it’s within my comfort
zone. Can you imagine the reviews if I did Chekhov and made a mess of it,
they’d slaughter me. Then see how quickly my storylines in Siders would dry up
and my character would have a nasty accident or leave to go on the run in Spain to escape
from some minor gangster.
JOHN I don’t want to upset you but the rumour going round is that you only got it because you slept with the director.
JOHN Oh, no one.
JOHN I’m sorry I got it wrong, it’s so easy to believe the rumours.
JOHN I think you’re right; who else do you like
JOHN He’s not gay, he’s just lonely, anyone else.
JOHN You know who I fancy in this company.
JOHN I’ve been nuts about you since the first day I saw you in rehearsals.
JOHN Because I’m not like they portray me in the press; I am actually a very shy person.
JOHN I don’t know, but I do know wherever it is I want to be there with you.
JOHN Know what.
JOHN I don’t care about your past there were reasons for the way you behaved, all I care about is our future. I think both of us have learned something very important about each other tonight. I shouldn’t have believed the rumours about you and Trevor but you know what it’s like if no one stops a rumour it tends to become truth.
I’m sorry I got it wrong about you and Trevor, I thought…
TRACY Well you thought wrong.
JOHN I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to upset you.
JOHN Ok, sorry, what do you want, flowers, dinner, what.
JOHN Ok we will.
JOHN I love you.
THE THIRD NIGHT
KNOCK ON THE DOOR
GWEN Rosie, is it safe to come in.
ROSIE Yes it’s safe, of course it’s safe.
GWEN What do you mean, of course it’s safe; the number of times I’ve come in here and found you in the middle of some sexual act with one of the band or some other poor soul you’ve dragged off the street.
ROSIE Gwen dear, perhaps we need a do not disturb sign for the door.
GWEN Do you mind, this is my dressing room as well as yours.
ROSIE It’s not my fault, I can’t use my digs they keep complaining about the noise.
GWEN I’m not surprised the way you scream; I’m surprised they haven’t called the police thinking someone’s being murdered.
ROSIE It’s not my fault I have multiple orgasms.
GWEN That’s because you’re doing it with multiple partners. Lord alone knows what you were doing the last time I caught you with the two young boys from box office; frankly I’m amazed someone of your age is so flexible.
ROSIE I do a lot of yoga.
GWEN You do a lot of something.
ROSIE You’re only jealous.
GWEN Not of your reputation; you know the band call you Rosie the bike because they’ve all ridden you.
ROSIE If they want to get bitchy I’ll tell you some things about the boys in the band. You know John the drummer, you wouldn’t believe what a bad sense of rhythm he has. The only way to have sex with him is to lie him down and climb on top, then tell him I’ll do the rhythm, you just lie back and think of England. Then there’s massive Mike on the bass; he can only do it if you abuse him. He gets off when I take of my Dandini costume and walk all over him just dressed in the stockings suspenders and stiletto heels. Ask to see his bruises, he’s not shy.
GWEN I couldn’t possibly.
ROSIE I think you’ve led a sheltered life.
GWEN I think, compared to you everyone’s led a sheltered life.
ROSIE I’ve had a twosome with Stan on trombone and Jack on trumpet; you can’t believe what they can do with their lips, it must be something to do with all that puckering they do.
GWEN I’m never sure if you don’t just make this stuff up.
ROSIE Oh no, you can’t make this up; the only one I’ve not had in the band is Simon. You know he’s in the
BNP, well he uses
prostitutes, black ones; it’s the only way he can get it on, he absolutely
hates it and he’s terrified that people will find out. There must be some deep
seated phycological reason but I’m dammed if I know what it is. Perhaps he had
a miss spent youth reading all those old National Geographic magazines with the
naked tribeswomen. I know I stole them from the school library when I was a
girl; very stimulating.
GWEN You’re beyond help, you are.
ROSIE No I’m not, all I need is some more help from Oliver the gorgeous young black boy in the chorus, he’s divine. He’s also hung like a donkey and so obliging, if I wasn’t old enough to be his mother I’d seriously consider becoming monogamous.
GWEN Rosie, you’re just so tacky, sometimes I find you embarrassing beyond belief.
ROSIE Don’t have a go at me; people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones.
GWEN And why do I live in a glass house.
ROSIE Gwen dear, are you joking; I’m sorry but just look at the way your children treat you, what you put up with there leaves me lost for words. No wonder you always get cast as the Fairy Godmother. There’s not a week goes by without your Justin coming in here demanding money with menaces. If he acted like that with anyone else they’d have him arrested.
GWEN He’s always asked for money like that, I’m used to it; it looks worse than it is.
ROSIE Worse than it is; he stands up in your face and pushes you around the room, I’ve seen how terrified you are of him.
GWEN It was my fault I left their father when they were just teenagers they must have felt awful. I destroyed their lives, I’m the guilty one, it’s my fault.
ROSIE What the Hell are you talking about, you’re guilty; you left a man who was physically and mentally abusing you and you think you’re the guilty one. Get real here, where do you think your children have got it from; like father like son.
GWEN I know you’re right, but I can’t stop feeling I’m guilty, it’s just the way I am.
ROSIE No, it’s the way you’ve been conditioned to feel; if you’ve been constantly beaten down and told you’re useless for years it’s hardly surprising you believe it after all this time.
GWEN I don’t know how to change.
ROSIE Well we’re going to have to find a way; it’s hard to believe you’re such a successful actor, you’ve been in everything, now you’re the star of Grange Road and yet you let your children walk all over you.
GWEN I know, it’s pitiful isn’t it.
ROSIE Yes it is, but I’ve got the solution; you’re a brilliant actor, I think we need to do some improv; some role play where you take control. Come on lets give it a go.
GWEN Ok, I’ll try.
ROSIE Right I’ll play your son; ready.
GWEN Ok; action.
ROSIE Hi ma, give me some money, ma give me some money, come on I need some money. I need it now, give me the money don’t mess me around.
GWEN Would you please let go of my arms, you’re hurting me.
ROSIE I’m not going to let go until you give me some money, come on give me some money; I’ll go away as soon as you give me the money. Give me the money; now.
GWEN Please stop you’re hurting me.
ROSIE Gwen, stop this, you’re supposed to be acting and you’re just being yourself; you’re just being a victim.
GWEN I’m sorry but you scared me it was just like when Justin scares me.
ROSIE You know what the problem is Justin is a bully, just like his father and the thing to know about most bullies is that underneath they’re cowards. Now lets try again.
GWEN I’m sorry, you’re right.
ROSIE Ok, so; give me the money, Ma give me the money, I’ll go away as soon as you give me the money. Come on I want money; now.
Let go of me, let go of me Justin, I mean it, I mean it now. I’ve had enough of your bullying. Leave me alone, Justin.
ROSIE That’s better, see, you can do it.
GWEN Yes I can, you’re right I can; it’s time to put a stop to this, pass me the phone.
Hello, Jason, it’s your mother here; now don’t say anything I have something important I want to say and you need to listen. I said listen. I’ve had enough Jason, I’ve had enough of your bullying ways and I’m not putting up with it anymore. You’ve picked up your violent temper from your father and I should have stopped you years ago; well better late than never. Jason, shut up. Listen to me Jason; don’t you ever come demanding money from me ever again. If you do I swear I will call the police and have you arrested. If you or your brothers want to see me I will see you on my terms, that is properly and respectfully. Do you understand. Good. Goodbye Jason.
ROSIE My God Gwen, I knew you were a good actor but that was brilliant.
GWEN No it wasn’t; I wasn’t acting.
ROSIE I don’t know about you but I could do with a drink.
GWEN Yes I think that would be a good idea, open the wine; look my hands are shaking.
ROSIE I’m not surprised I’m a bit in shock myself.
GWEN You know I’ve been so foolish I should have done that years ago, you were right I was bullied, I was bullied all my married life. When I look back I can see where I went wrong; my husband was such a waste of space. I carried him all through our married life and yet he made me feel like I was the useless one. It wasn’t me that had affairs, it wasn’t me down the pub all the time. He just treated me like a skivvy to look after him and the kids. I’ve been taken for a ride all along; well now, thanks to you that’s all over.
ROSIE I’ve never told anyone this before, but I was married once.
GWEN You married, I don’t believe it.
ROSIE I can hardly believe it myself, it was such a long time ago. He was from the same mould that your husband came from except he was worse. It all starts in such a subtle way, they get control of you before you’ve realised what they’re doing. Little things like criticising your cooking, undermining your confidence in everything you do to the point where you believe it’s all your fault. I used to cook him meals every night, if I had a pound for every one he threw at the wall I’d be rich The mad thing is, he comes home drunk throws your food at the wall and you’re the one who feels guilty and apologises and cleans up the mess. Some nights if I was lucky he’d fall asleep in the chair before he threw the food, other nights I’d have the option of a good slapping or having sex. Actually the option was a good slapping or being raped, or some nights both. The tragic thing is you eventually accept all this as normal and even worse you accept it as your fault, I wouldn’t have treated an animal the way my husband treated me. He’d frequently humiliate me in front of my friends, to the point that in the end I didn’t have any friends; he was my only friend. How bizarre is that, my abuser became my only friend. I suffered his abuse for years, the police didn’t get involved in domestics in those days, though God knows they came often enough. It would always be a male copper and my husband would say, oh she’s been getting out of order and deserved a slap. As long as things were pacified they would leave and I would quietly submit to yet another rape from the man I had grown to hate. The trouble is you hate and fear them in equal measure, so how can you get away. I had a girlfriend in the same situation, she tried to leave and he found her and threw acid in her face. He’s in prison now, but she’s disfigured for life and petrified in case he finds her when he comes out and we’re supposed to live in a civilised society. I’ve become involved with the battered wives refuge; if you spent a day listening to some of their stories it would break your heart. There have been far too many honour killings just lately and they’re just the tip of the iceberg. For every death there are at least ten suicides, young girls who are in love with someone the family won’t accept, scared to death they will be sent home to marry someone they haven’t even met. What a sad waste of a young life and the worse thing is lots of men get away with it such is the climate of fear they create, people are too frightened to testify against them. I've known that fear, I’ve been hospitalised by my ex too many times to remember, that’s why I hated to see the way Jason was treating you. The last time my husband hit me I ended up in intensive care and yet I still went back. I told him I’d give him one last chance and what does he do two months later; well this time I’d had enough. We were in the kitchen and I grabbed a knife and I stabbed him.
GWEN My God, Rosie, what happened.
ROSIE I hit an artery; I didn’t mean to I was just lashing out to protect myself, he was a brute, he deserved it.
GWEN What happened.
ROSIE He died; I watched him bleed to death in front of me, I watched him screaming and squirming on the kitchen floor. You know what I felt.
ROSIE Nothing, I felt nothing.
GWEN What happened to you.
ROSIE I got ten years.
GWEN My God Rosie how did you cope with that.
ROSIE The same way you cope with the beatings; you can get used to anything if you have to. The only good thing about prison, was the sex, as long as you’re broad minded; I’d never thought of myself as lesbian but inside it’s different. I was locked up from the beginning, I didn’t get bail; you can’t imagine the shock when you go inside for the first time. The first night I shared a cell with a prostitute who was addicted to crack, she scared the life out of me but I suppose she must have been scared to death of me too, after all I was in for murder. Gradually you get used to it and by the time you’re sentenced you’ve become institutionalised. The thing that got me through it was the friendship and support of the other girls, some in a mental way and some physical. I had more sex in prison than I had before when I was being raped by my husband all the time. The difference was of course inside it was by choice; I still prefer sex with a man but my God some of those girls had some imagination when it came to sex. I only served six years what with time served and remission, I came out changed my name and got on with my life; in many ways it was worth it to be rid of him.
GWEN I’m so sorry I had no idea, I shouldn’t have been so critical of your lifestyle.
ROSIE That’s ok, we all have our ways of coping with life.
GWEN Maybe there’s more to your way than I thought.
ROSIE It does put a smile on your face every now and then; you ought to try it. I’ll tell you what I’ll set you up on a date with Colepepper you could do with some love in your life. Ok.
GWEN Yes, yes ok Rosie, thanks.
THE FOURTH NIGHT
KNOCK AT THE DOOR
Wayne old boy, are you
DONALD I’ve no idea, but it’s just polite to ask.
DONALD Well actually I’m in a delightful mood, although I’m a little tired.
DONALD Well old chap, for the first time in years I had a date.
DONALD With Gwen.
DONALD Gwen Thomas; Fairy Godmother Gwen.
DONALD Absolutely fabulous, I haven’t had such a good time in years. I’d forgotten what it was like to go out with a woman on a one to one basis. She’s such a nice person she seems to have blossomed all of a sudden. We went to the Italian in
George Lane; we chatted
all night. It made me feel like a young man again and the best thing is we’re
going to do it again; I can’t wait I’m like an excited schoolboy.
DONALD I can’t believe you would ask such a question. No I didn’t, although I do believe if I’d had the chance I could have done.
DONALD There’s not much more to tell; we chatted all night, I haven’t felt so relaxed with someone for years. She told me all sorts about her life and may I say I reciprocated. I haven’t been that open with anyone for years. I found it a very cathartic experience, she helped me to let go, to open up. Thirty five years ago my wife was killed in a car accident and last night with Gwen was the first time I’ve spoken to anyone about it since it happened.
DONALD That’s awfully sweet of you old boy but you don’t have to worry, after last night I can talk about it with anyone. I’d always been a shy old bugger so I was getting on a bit when we married but it was the best day of my life; I’ve never loved anyone like I loved Dorothy. Then to put the icing on the cake not long after we found out she was pregnant, I couldn’t have been happier. Shortly after that I got Henry five with the
RSC at Stratford upon Avon, how much better could life get. Dorothy drove me up
and stayed to do some sightseeing while I was in rehearsals, it was one of the
best times of my life. She went back on opening night; I told her to wait and
go back in the morning but she had an early meeting the next day so she went
back that evening after the party. I was woken in the early hours by a
policeman who told me Dorothy had been involved in an accident and had died at
the scene. My life fell apart; in that moment my wife and baby were dead and I
didn’t have the where with all to deal with it. The only way I could deal with
it was to immerse myself in work; wasn’t it Oscar Wilde who said; I love
acting, it’s so much more real than life. I know I keep
quoting Gielgud and Olivier and a lot of this company think I’m a sad old fart
but that was a very important part of my life. Working with Johnny, Laurence
and Ralphy at the RSC was the high
light of my career and yet the lowest point of my life. I could have killed
myself at the drop of a hat and yet the applause and the adrenalin kept me
going. I kept all that sadness bottled up for years and then last night in
Gwens digs I let go of it all.
DONALD Yes it was and I know how your brain works, so yes we did spend the night together, what was left of it. We had a cuddle in bed, naked, it was heaven.
DONALD Thank you
Wayne, I hope things work
out for you to.
DONALD I do know
Wayne and if there’s
anything I can do to help.
DONALD I know about your dementia; it was obvious to me I’ve seen the signs before with my uncle. I know you’re desperately trying to hide it, that’s why I always try to help you with your lines.
DONALD It doesn’t yet to the others, they just think you’re an arrogant old pop star milking it for all it’s worth. I’m sure I’m the only one who realises you’re just doing it because you can’t remember the lines. When were you diagnosed.
DONALD And the prognosis.
DONALD I’m very sorry old chap.
DONALD Yes, a problem shared is a problem halved.
DONALD It hasn’t come to that yet, that’s a long way off old chap, in the mean time there’s not much I can do to help, the only thing I can suggest is to be honest with everyone else, at least then everyone can help you with your lines.
DONALD Well that’s nice to know.
DONALD Yes, indeed, I know they had Johnny Gielgud on and as you may know he was convicted for persistently importuning for immoral purposes, or picking up a man in a public toilet, cottaging as they call it nowadays. So predictably all the jokes were taking the mickey out of gay people; the trouble was you had to go on even if you didn’t want to. Can you imagine the press in those days, if they’d found out you were asked and had refused.
DONALD I must say I’m not a fan of them at all, their material is so sexist.
DONALD How do you mean.
DONALD I know there were rumours in the business, but what about his wife.
DONALD I suppose you know mine, now what’s yours.
DONALD I’m sure with your miss spent youth there must be something.
DONALD Well perhaps, if you have something to confess, now would be a good time.
WAYNE Ok Donald, you and I are more alike than you would imagine, remember I said I’d had every girl on Summer Weekend, well there was one in particular who I fell in love with, her name was Wendy. I would have married her if I’d had the chance, but in those days it was the kiss of death to a young pop stars career, we had to be seen to be available. Looking back it’s ridiculous but that’s how it was then; anyway one day Wendy came to me and said she was pregnant, I was just a kid, just starting my career, I couldn’t have anything jeopardize that. I gave her the money to get rid of it but she couldn’t bring herself to do it. I told her that if she had the child never to name me as the father as I would deny it and she would look like a fool. She must have felt so rejected she threw herself in front of an underground train and killed herself. I was the one who was the fool, I should have had the guts to stand by her. Like you Donald, the love of my life was dead; no one connected her with me, there were just a few lines in the paper; young dancer killed in tragic accident. I did exactly the same as you, I worked myself to death. That’s why everyone thought I was so arrogant, because all I thought about was me and my career.
DONALD It wasn’t your fault
that was the way things were in those days, we’re all victims of our
DONALD Hard, but not impossible; you’re right we are surprisingly alike and yet so different. We’ve both lost someone we love, someone who meant everything to us and have both taken far too long to come out the other side. I’ve come through it with Gwens help, now it’s your turn to let go of the past. It wasn’t your fault, we were both victims, but like me it’s now time for you to stop being a victim and move on.
DONALD I’ll tell you what, I’m going for a meal after the show with Gwen, come with us old chap. Nothing heavy, nothing pressured, just a drink and a meal with friends who care.
THE LAST NIGHT
KNOCK AT THE DOOR
BERT How do I get in.
BERT I haven’t got a knob on my side.
THE DOOR OPENS
NORMAN Goon Show 1960, I’ll name that gag in one.
Norman, dead right,
although I think you’ll find the year was 1959.
NORMAN Yes Bert, I bow to your superior knowledge you’re right Eccles and Bluebottle 1959.
BERT I can’t believe this was the last night, it seems to have flown by.
BERT Have you been with the same company as me, some of them are the most boring people I’ve ever had the misfortune to meet.
BERT Colepepper, God if I have to listen to another of his; when I was at the
RSC with Johnny and Ralphy
NORMAN He’s a sad old bugger but he means well.
BERT What about the two fools in the panto horse, I’m sure they’re an affair, they’re always skulking around together.
NORMAN I sometimes wonder about you; you can be such a bitchy old queen yourself.
BERT Bitchy moi, how about Gwen, no wonder she’s always on her own. God knows I like a fag, but she’s like a bloody chimney.
BERT I’m sure she is, that’s why I hate her; she rejected me, I’ve no idea why.
BERT Unlike Tracy Phillips, she’s such an air head, what’s wrong with young people today, all they think about is their looks.
BERT Not at my age, we can’t, I’m old I’m balding and I’ve a beer gut; it took years of abuse to get to look like this. There is no way I want to go back to the way I was when I was young. When you’re young you can do all night what it takes you all night to do when you’re old, that’s the only good thing about being young. Old man of eighty decides to take a Thai bride, all his friends are worried about his health.
BERT So the old man says; well if she dies she dies.
NORMAN I thought you got on with John he’s a young thrusting Prince Charming, just like you were when you were his age.
BERT Are you sure, I never did drugs, well only fags and booze, I may have been thrusting but I’ve never been charming in my life.
Wayne’s ok, I worked with him on Summer
Weekend, he was fun.
BERT He might have been fun then, but now he’s a pain in the arse. Milking every scene for all he’s worth, why he can’t stick to the script God knows, anyone would think he’s got dementia.
NORMAN Well we’ve had a laugh, haven’t we.
BERT Yeah, I suppose so. Mans idea of safe sex.
NORMAN Padded head board. I married Miss Right.
BERT I hadn’t realised her first name was always.
TOGETHER I didn’t like to interrupt her.
BERT I live at 75 so it’s no distance. I want to die in my sleep like my father.
BERT They’re proper gags, not like this modern rubbish. It’s come to something when there’s more things you can’t make gags about than things you can. The only people who can crack Jewish gags have to be Jewish, don’t get me going about black gags, that was half my act. I hate to think what would happen if you cracked a gag about the wife or the mother in law, I can’t stand all this political correctness.
NORMAN You know what we are, dinosaurs; all our feeding grounds have gone and we’re slowly dying out. All the pubs and working mens clubs are closing, you’re looked on as a leper if you have a fag in the street; God forbid anyone should dare to light up in the pub. It’s all well and good for those politicians to ban smoking but it was our living. What the hell was wrong with a smoke filled club, we all chose to go there, Les Dawson had it right, you can’t die of nothing.
BERT He used to do some fabulous gags, remember Cissie and
Ada, him and Roy Barraclough dressed as
women. That was a class act, I wanted to steal his Over The Garden wall act for
us when he died but it seemed disrespectful. Take her at number fourteen, she’s
no better than she should be. Too thick with her lodger for my liking.
BERT Yes, he was magic; I went to the doctors to get something for persistent wind, he gave me a kite.
NORMAN I took my mother in law to Madame Tussards Chamber of Horrors and the attendant said keep her moving sir, we’re stock taking.
BERT You know he left his dressing room in The Empire Theatre in
vowing never to work there again. He never said why, although it’s supposed to
be haunted by the ghost of Sid James who died of a heart attack in the
BERT Ironic that Les died of a heart attack not long after. Want a fag Norm.
NORMAN Yeah, I’m gagging.
BERT Here you are.
NORMAN Thanks Bert; this is ridiculous, here we are two grown men, senior citizens, skulking around by an open window to have a fag like two naughty school boys.
BERT How are the mighty fallen.
BERT Yeah, happy days, we were the best, there was no one to touch us. What’s blue and fluffy.
BERT The wife said, how would you like to talk to mummy, I said through a spiritualist.
BERT My mother in law has come to our house at Christmas seven years running. This year we’re having a change.
BERT Yeah, the good old days, we had chauffeur driven limos then, what have we got now.
NORMAN Our bus passes and our memories; we’ve known each other for so long we’re like an old married couple, we even…
BERT Finish each others sentences. I said to my neighbour; take my wife, now they’ve gone away together.
BERT Well you should know.
Norman, it’s five years
since Brian died.
BERT No Norman, Brian your lover.
BERT I am your friend, that’s why I said it. Don’t you think it’s time to come clean.
NORMAN Don’t you mean come out; how can I come out it will ruin my career.
BERT Your career. Norm your career and mine went down the pan years ago when they invented political correctness. Out of the two of us you’re the one with a chance of a career if you do come out. Look at Frankie Howerd he rose from the ashes more times than the
you both went to the same rug maker.
BERT Too much.
BERT There you are, you can do it, that’s your new career sorted.
BERT That’s ok, we can work on it, I’ll be your manager, although I’ll just stick to the manager bit, I’m not Brian. I’ll leave the shirt lifting to you.
BERT Like I care, I’m too bloody old to change now, you were right, we are dinosaurs.
BERT No, it’s actually deadly serious.
BERT Yeah, Tony was a beautiful man, too fragile for this business. Drunk himself to death consumed with self doubt about his talent, so sad. They published his suicide letter; it said, things went wrong too many times.
BERT We’re lucky at least we survived.
NORMAN Do you have any regrets Bert.
BERT Loads, and you.
BERT I’m surprised you haven’t been caught by the press.
BERT Anything else.
BERT We all have our regrets, I was a right bastard in the early days, I’d do anything to get a job. You know how homophobic the old bookers were especially in the northern clubs, well I’d start a rumour that some of the acts were gay, it’s amazing how soon their bookings drop. I did it to Eric, you know Eric Shirvell, back of the horse. We were up for a commercial and I told the director Eric had aids. I know he never worked for that director again; I wonder if he ever found out what I’d done, I must ask him one day. He wasn’t the only one I did that trick on, I was an absolute bastard.
NORMAN Did you ever do that to me.
BERT No, you were a bloody good comedian, better than me that’s why I wanted to work with you. You know how we got together as a double act.
BERT Actually, that’s close but no cigar, it was me who set the whole thing up. I set up the TV deal, then told them to speak to your agent to sort it out. I always was a manipulating so and so, that’s why I was always top dog in the act even though you were a better comic.
NORMAN Well you learn something every day, you cunning bugger,
BERT That’s one of the best things I ever managed to arrange, I’ve never had a moments regret about our partnership it was the best thing I ever did.
NORMAN Blimey Bert, I never knew you cared.
BERT Well now you know.
BERT There’s no rush, it will be the same old rubbish as last year. Trevor going on about what a wonderful company it’s been this year and how he’s really looking forward to working with us again next year and it will sound like he really means it.
THE DOOR OPENS
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